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Obama, Abe Discuss North Korea's 'Provocative' Action

U.S. President Barack Obama says he and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe discussed North Korea and a response to Pyongyang's "provocative" action.

The president said he and Mr. Abe are committed to a "strong" response to North Korea, which recently conducted a nuclear test.

Mr. Obama hosted Mr. Abe for talks at the White House Friday. The two also discussed Japan's rising tension with China over a territorial dispute.

The president highlighted relations between the United States and Japan. He said he and the prime minister are to have lunch and discuss economic issues and cooperation.

Mr. Abe, who arrived in Washington Thursday, began his second turn as prime minister in December. He campaigned, in part, on a pledge of closer relations with the United States amid perceived threats from China's territorial claims.



Ahead of his visit, Mr. Abe sparked controversy in an interview with The Washington Post, where he accused China of using its state-run school system to encourage anti-Japan sentiment.

The prime minister said China has a "deeply ingrained" need for conflict with Japan and its other neighbors. He says Beijing uses the disputes to maintain strong domestic support, warning they will not be resolved soon.

China rejected the comments.

Danny Russel, the White House's top Asia advisor, said the U.S. is clearly opposed to any "coercive actions or unilateral steps that threaten the stability of the region." But he said Mr. Obama would welcome any proposals by Mr. Abe "to engage diplomatically and to manage the maritime situation in a way that prevents the risk of miscalculation."

During a telephone call last week, Mr. Obama and Mr. Abe pledged "significant" actions at the United Nations in response to Pyongyang's February 12 nuclear test.

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